The manager of Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman is asking for Christians everywhere to pray for the Chapman family for the next two weeks as they pass two difficult milestones.
May 21 marks the first anniversary of the tragic death of Maria Sue Chapman, the youngest of the Chapman children, while May 13 marks what would have been Maria's sixth birthday.
"For reasons only Our Mighty God can understand, she is spending it with Him instead of us," remarked manager Jim Houser Wednesday. "Through the sorrow ... A Faithful God has held this family this year ... Please, please be in prayer for our friends these next 2 weeks."
Houser made a similar call for prayer on Monday, following the marriage of Chapman's eldest son, Caleb, over the weekend.
"[W]ith these hard dates ahead, we know the weeks ahead will be so heavy. I covet your prayers for the Chapmans," he wrote in his personal blog.
It was on May 21, 2008, that Maria Sue, Chapman's youngest child and one of three adopted from China, was accidentally and fatally struck by a sport utility vehicle in the driveway of the family's Williamson County home in Tennessee. The driver, 17-year-old Will Franklin Chapman, was returning home and did not see his sister running toward him to greet him.
The tragedy pulled on the heartstrings of believers across denominations, many of whom were familiar with the popular Christian music star whose songs have become a staple in contemporary worship services and on Christian radio stations nationwide.
The accident also led Chapman to consider the idea of not returning to the stage. After the tragedy, Chapman stopped touring and declined interviews.
But Chapman decided later to continue with his U.S. concerts, wanting to go forward and take the opportunity to share his faith.
Still, throughout the path toward healing, it has been hard for the Chapman family, who said only three months ago were they able to draw out "sweet memories" and no longer just tears when looking at photos of Maria.
"Our family isn't the same without her, it is like a chunk of our whole body is missing and the wound feels as though it will never heal," commented Maria's mother and Steven Curtis Chapman's wife, Mary Beth, on Tuesday.
"I'm sad. I'm really really catastrophically sad," she added.
"I would give anything to have her back ... to push rewind and go back and have this all be different, but because we can't .... We have to point others to the one who is singing Happy Birthday to her now," she continued. "So as much as we can, we will use our suffering as a place where people see our Hope and our Faith."
Though the Chapmans' past year was marred by tragedy, it was also accompanied with joyous occasions, including Chapman's "Artist of the Year" award from the Gospel Music Association and a number of family milestones.
"In the last 12 months, they have graduated 2 sons, married a daughter off, married a son off, and sadly buried a daughter too," Houser noted Monday.
"Some nights like last night, we see this family smile and laugh and have fun again. It feels good," he added.
Still, Houser asked supporters to pray for the Chapman family as they approach "the hard part."
"I covet your prayers for the Chapman family today," he wrote Wednesday.
Mary Beth, in her blog Tuesday, also asked for prayers – for her family as well as those who have lost a child.
"Please continue to pray for us, but also take time to pray for all families who have suffered loss, that Christ will meet them somewhere in their grief journey and they will encounter HIM," she wrote.
And "[h]ug your little ones tighter," she concluded.
Maria Sue Chapman was adopted two months after her first birthday from a Christian foster home in China.
The Chapmans have two other adopted children – Shaohannah Hope and Stevey Joy – in addition to their three biological children.